Karolina Numminen
A person’s hands resting on a laptop keyboard and notebook at a pink desk with a cup of coffee.

Rethinking Feedback Part 2: A Simple Tool for Self-Evaluation

In the first article of this series, I shared why feedback isn’t always the silver bullet for improving performance. In this second part, I will dive deeper into alternative approaches and introduce a simple tool to help you evaluate your performance and take meaningful action in your professional journey. If sitting down and reflecting on your own work feels daunting or boring, keep reading; this might be a game-changer for you!

Firstly, why bother evaluating your performance? Why not just wait for your manager (or anyone else invited to your 360 feedback circle) to do it for you? Well, I believe it’s one of the skills that will set you apart and ensure you are progressing in your career and doing so in the right direction. In our fast-paced world, it’s easier than ever to become the dinosaur stuck in old ways of working while others are miles ahead of you. 

Also, understanding your own work can help you figure out your next career step. It can be handy when discussing your value in interviews and can give you confidence, freeing you from endless self-doubt. With good self-reflection, you know where you stand and what's next

So how do you evaluate your work? All you need to do is ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn’t go well?
  3. What can I do differently?

Simple, right? You acknowledge your successes as well as shortcomings and make a plan on how to move forward. If there is one thing that I have learned while coaching people, it’s that simple, straightforward tools always beat fancy complex tips and tricks. 

So let’s talk a bit about each of these questions.

1. What went well?

First, answering ‘What went well’ teaches you to acknowledge and praise your work. Always start with this question, even if your brain wants to pull you to the ‘let’s beat ourselves up’ part. There is always something you did well.

It's not about patting yourself on the back non-stop but recognizing genuine growth (like, "I managed that situation way better than I would've last year") Be careful of that imposter syndrome creeping in to diminish your achievements (‘I did well, but that’s because it wasn’t that difficult’). Steer clear of doubting your successes and just admit to yourself that you did well. 

Knowing what you're good at isn’t just good for your confidence but can be key in job interviews, job performance discussions, or when pitching your ideas. 

2. What didn’t go well?

The second question is about being honest with yourself about where you could've done better. The point is to acknowledge the shortcomings and learn to take responsibility for them without beating yourself up or creating unnecessary drama. 

Also, remember, this isn't about pointing fingers or blaming others. It's about you. Include only areas that you are in full control of so that you can plan on how to improve them.   

Focus on facts and keep your emotions in check. Recognize and feel your negative emotions, but keep your reflection straightforward. If something's bothering you, maybe hold off on reviewing it till you feel some distance from the situation.

3. What can you do differently?

The final question helps you make an action plan based on what you identified as not going so well.

Think about actionable changes that won’t require an insane effort. Make sure you are as specific as possible. For instance, simply wanting to “focus more” is too vague. Also, start small. You have probably set yourself new year’s resolutions at some point, so you know that it’s impossible to become a new flawless person overnight (or ever).

When to Use This Tool

Anytime is a good time! Whether you're reflecting on your day, your week, or even after a meeting or presentation, these questions can help. I suggest making it a habit, maybe as part of your end-of-week reflection.

If you have 1:1s with your boss, doing this reflection might be a great basis for your weekly discussion. Also, I highly recommend doing a deep dive reflection if you have regular performance reviews. It will help you have a more valuable discussion, especially if you want to ask for a promotion or salary increase.

Making the Most of the Tool

Seeing real growth is all about consistency. As you continue to evaluate, you'll start to spot trends in what you're good at and where you stumble. If you see, you're consistently great at something, that's a strength worth diving into. On the other hand, if there's a hiccup you can't seem to shake, it's time to dig deeper. Maybe chat with a mentor or boss to get an outside view and research potential solutions.

Karolina Numminen

Want to go deeper into evaluating your work?

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Wrapping It Up

Checking in on your work performance is key, especially as you progress in your career. Many of us never learned how to do this effectively, and asking yourself just three simple questions can be a great start

As with any new skill, it might feel weird at first, and that's okay. Give it a go, and you might be surprised at what you find. Write down your evaluations in a notebook or type them in a document but keep all your evaluations in one place so that you can identify patterns and track your progress.

Karolina Numminen
Karolina Numminen

Hi there!

Thank you for reading! I'm Karolina, a career coach with a passion for helping people have fulfilling and successful career journeys. I love writing about all things work and sharing the insights I’ve gained from years of coaching clients.

I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn and continue the conversation. I’m always curious about different professions and career paths!


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